Today’s Reading: Galatians 4
But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir. – Galatians 4:4-7
God sent His Son to buy us freedom. We are no longer slaves…so why do we so often let our own sinful nature control our actions and our words? God sent His Son so that we could be free from sin and He gave us His Spirit to live in our hearts. This freedom that comes from a Spirit-filled life should look like love and not harsh words or bitter attitudes. The presence of the Holy Spirit should be evidenced by the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and SELF-CONTROL.
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. – Galatians 5:13-15
This is where Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia sounds so much like James’ letter to the Christians scattered across the region. When do I need self-control? Pretty much every time I open my mouth. Here’s the tricky part: Self-control is really not about SELF-control but about allowing the SPIRIT to be in control. If I put myself in charge of controlling the words I say and the tone with which I say them, I cannot sustain holiness. But when I give in to the urgings of God’s Spirit and allow “self-control” to simply be a fruit of His presence in my life, my tongue is put under HIS control.
This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?
Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.
Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. – James 3:7-18 (The Message)
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under the obligation to the law of Moses.
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against these things! – Galatians 5:16-23
Abba Father, thank you for your gift of the Spirit living within me. I am so thankful that is not up to me to produce holiness but to simply submit to your Spirit and let your fruit be evident in my life: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Because I belong to Christ Jesus, the passions and desires of my sinful nature have been nailed to his cross and crucified there.
It is my desire to live by the Spirit’s leading in every area of my life – never conceited or jealous of others, never provoking or injuring someone with my words (Gal. 5:24-26). I want my walk with you to be characterized by getting along with others, loving others because I love you. Fill me anew this morning with your Spirit and may you be glorified in my life today. Amen.